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FIFA and UAFA to support development of football in Palestine
The Union of Arab Football Association (UAFA) has agreed to donate one million US dollars to football development projects carried out by FIFA in Palestine. This decision was confirmed during a meeting that took place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich yesterday (13 September 2006), which was opened by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and attended by FIFA Executive Committee member and AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam, UAFA Vice-President Mohamed Raouraoua and Palestine FA General Secretary Bader Mekky, as well as the delegate of the FIFA President for special affairs, Jérôme Champagne, FIFA's head of development management Pascal Torres and FIFA Development Officer in Cairo Taha Ismail.
The donation, pledged by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UAFA specifically for a development project of this kind, will serve to complement a Goal project in Palestine that FIFA is currently overseeing, which will result in the installation of three artificial pitches in Gaza, Ram and Ramallah. In particular, it was agreed that the new development project's priority will be the construction of a national stadium with appropriate facilities, including floodlights, stands, dressing rooms and fencing, in Ram.
"We want to thank our friends from Saudi Arabia and the UAFA for this magnificent gesture to help the development of Palestinian football. I am convinced that, through football, there can be a better understanding between people, since our family makes no differentiation between the rich and the poor, or between different cultures, religions or genders," commented the FIFA President.
"We appreciate your assistance, especially to our players and our national team, as they are the representatives of the united Palestinians all over the world. We have the will to improve, but were previously lacking in infrastructure. Now we have made the first step towards a better future," said Mekky.
Palestine was granted one of the Goal Programme's pilot projects 1999. That first project included the building of association headquarters in Gaza, which were officially opened in the summer of 2005. A second Goal project, involving the construction of artificial pitches in Gaza, Ram and Ramallah, was subsequently approved in March 2006.
"Contributions such as this one help us move one step closer to our objective that all national teams be able to play matches at home, and we hope that this will be possible in the near future," concluded Blatter.